Black like me.
Recently, a lovely woman I work with made the comment, in regards to my youthful countenance, 'you have black folk in your family somewhere!' As she herself is black folk, she has some authority on the matter. And it's funny, because I've always felt I had both black and Jewish lineage in me somewhere. When I was a kid, it took me a while to catch up with my mouth, which earned me the nickname 'n___lips' and the taunt that 'you didn't get lips like that from sucking on doorknobs' (which still doesn't make sense to me - but this is 2-3rd grade witticisms were talking about). The genealogy is murky on either parent's side, but my father (who was a deplorable bigot his entire lonnnng lonnnnng life) had black curly hair and used to tan very deeply. When he enlisted in the army, in a beautiful stroke of irony, they listed his status as 'Negro'. Much to my dismay growing up, I inherited the curly/frizzy hair (the standard of beauty all around me growing up was straight straight hair). I used to spend the better part of every Sunday with my hair in ginormous rollers under a hot hair dryer to no one would suspect my terrible frizzy secret (a secret that my parents encouraged me to keep, interestingly). Every night I had to tape my bangs to my forehead (I was going for Agent 99 hair). When I finally left home and was able to just let my hair do what it wanted, I rocked an awesome Afro for several years, until hand held blow dryers came along and I was able to tame my head thusly. Alas, today I only have a wave left, which often gives me hair that looks like this:
It should be noted that the photo at top, taken while I was camping with my cousin and her family in California when I was ten, was not an attempt at black face. We were having a mud spa treatment. The brat at the bottom is my cousin Sara, who screamed until she was included in the shot.
It's Tuesday, but it's not Belgium, but I would gladly pay you for a hamburger today.
And thus exhausts my Tuesday references.
A friend was so very kind and thoughtful as to forward me an animated version of what the Alaska Way Viaduct and surrounding areas would look like if we had a substantial earthquake. I work by and commute via said Viaduct. It was damaged in the 2001 earthquake and since this is Seattle, and every decision has to be committee'd to death, we still are not 100% certain of it's replacement or overhaul. But it was thrilling to see large chunks of it crumble and fall. Even more fun, imaging me and my car crumbling and falling with it!! As it is, there is a stretch through downtown going West that runs under the East bound lanes that I generally try to locate a happy place for the duration of the time I have to be there. Perhaps because I have quit drinking, my friend thought he'd throw me a challenge?
And as I recall, I had quit drinking the year of our last earthquake - I think I was in my second month of sobriety. I was working on the East side and when the tremors began impressed myself with the alacrity with which I dispatched myself under my desk. Later, when I went home to the little cottage on Alki Beach I was living in, it looked like my house had been put through a paint mixer. I found things at the back of the house which normally dwelled in the front. I couldn't find my cat, Bif, and feared he was under a big dresser which had fallen over on its face. I later found him wedged under a space about 4 inches high under the couch. Poor guy. It took me all evening to clean up and I had only two broken items, amazingly.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this post, aside from pointing out certain obtuse behavior. Perhaps I'm just hoping that the gods, hearing of my new round of sobriety, don't decide to throw another earthquake our way. Or, 7 months down the line, fly some airplanes into tall buildings. Because, you know, it's all about me.
Margaret 1 (detail)
I'm sure there's a German word for my weekend.
It was, at times, Wagnerian in its histrionics. It began with an encounter in the park. It's my second meet up with a woman who is the embodiment of cluelessness and her dog, who hates my dog, and vice versa. But twice now she has let her dog advance on mine, all the while assuring me, as she follows behind her dog (who is crouched down like a lion in the Serengeti, hackles raised, ready to pounce) in a leisurely fashion, that her dog just wants to say hello, or some stupid fuckery to that effect. The first time it ended in tears. This time, same scenario, with me shouting with greater and greater fury to 'get your dog', and variations thereof. 'Get your fucking dog or I will kill it and then I will kill you' being one of them. I also inquired as to whether or not she was retarded (the owner, not the dog). Well, second verse, same as the first. Her dog attacked, me (and I'm a singer: I have lungs) yelling all the while. When the episode was FINALLY over and she had run off to get her dog, which had run off, she yelled in a squeaky voice: You have anger issues! No shit, Sherlock. You have intelligence issues, I yelled back. Not my finest line, but neither was it my finest hour.
Part Deux.
I'm having a fence constructed to keep the chickens out of one of the perennial gardens. By a big sensitive butch (would seem an oxymoron, I know) who immediately picked up on my aggravated vibe and personalized it, so after she did some impromptu pruning of a butterfly bush in my driveway, we proceeded to miscommunicate to the point where she departed in a huff in her truck. She returned later, with a slightly better, less aggrieved manner. Jesus wept. As of this writing, the project is about 65% completed. I just want it to be over. So that was my Saturday. Oh, and I got to dig post holes (I know!), too, so by the end of the day I was almost crippled. I tended to the critters, took the dog for a drag (hoping I wouldn't run across the retarded woman) and then collapsed on the couch and watched a Ms. Marple mystery. Which, swinging 60s harpsichord music aside, was delightful. On Sunday, I worked on Ms. Rutherford, and am proclaiming it done, done and done. Next painting project: back to the chickens.
New worldly possession!
As I am quite house-poor, I have had to curtail my eBay addiction almost completely, but lately have been sort of sticking my toe back in the shallow end. And voila! Chicken alarm clock. The alarm apparently doesn't work, but that's fine: I would probably have a heart attack if I was jolted awake by something metal and loud. Since you asked: I wake up to moonbeams. Or rather, a Moonbeam clock, which is made of faux bakelite and flashes light for several minutes and that usually does the trick, as I'm a ridiculously light sleeper. If that fails, then it deploys the audio version, which is not so gentle. The head of the chicken (on the clock) bobs up and down to the second hand (I know!). I'm sure there is some profane application of the same technology out there somewhere. And last night as I was just laying on the couch, reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell (love it), I could hear the faint tick tick tick of the clock and it was actually very soothing. Like the beat beat beat of a heartbeat.

More Adventures in Poop! courtesy of Dinsdale. Yesterday, first thing in the morning, he left a dollop of it for me to step in and then walk around spreading. I ended up having to bathe him AND shampoo the carpets. Today I drove the stupidly long distance between me and my vet to drop off a sample of said poop, which came up negative for parasites, so now I have to put him on baby food. Sigh.
Yesterday I had a brief conversation in the comments column on Flickr with a local woman who had posted pictures of her visit with a capybara (above: giant rat, if you must: I prefer giant hamster) and I have to tell you, I am smitten. Like I don't have enough sturm und drang with my existing critter family. I fear I don't have the proper amount of space for them to cavort, and it sounds like they need a pool to swim in. I could wrangle a smallish pool but I don't think that would suffice. I dunno. They're pretty damned amazing, but I think I'll wait until Lulu sluffs off this mortal coil before seriously looking into acquiring a rodent who can get up to 150 pounds.
All the leaves on the trees are falling...
Which means I'll soon have a sizeable dump of them to rake up, but nevermind. It's bedding for the worm bin. Which reminds me, I need to check up on the worms. Everytime I open it up to put some food in, it's a scene from Hitchcock's The Chickens.
I had a nice, unremarkable weekend. I think the most noteworthy aspect of all weekends is the absence of news, which is pretty much just bad anymore, anyway. Granted, I'm not a talking head junkie who has to hear every breathless utterance: I don't have a tv, and only listen to NPR: but still. I get my This American Life fix, and a couple other shows and then click: off. I actually enjoy the sound of silence now. When I was younger I couldn't stand it: I had to have some kind of audio wallpaper going on at all times. The only downside to silence is you can hear other people's noise that much better. Don't make me come over there.....
Ode to cronedom.
I'm presently working on a painting of Margaret Rutherford. It's long been my desire to do a series based on character actors I grew up with and loved. To name a few: Edward Andrews, Reta Shaw, Henry Jones, Sterling Holloway, Hermoine Gingold, Henry Silva, Edward Everett Horton. And I haven't painted humans in a long time, so again - relearning. But what has been so much fun in working on MR's painting is her amount of sagging flesh and wrinkles. No big stretch, really, as I favor painting dogs with lots of flaps and folds. But I don't think I will limit my Rutherford gallery to just one. She was a grand old dame - in fact, she was a Dame. And she found her calling rather late in life. Hey, I find my inspiration where I can.
Big Beulah and Little Ester
Life as it should be.
All work weeks should be three days long. Today is my Monday. Neener neener. I got to be productive AND lazy. Finished a painting and started on two more. Pitched several fits and thought, not for the first (nor the last) time that it's good that I live alone and even though my pets are pretty pampered, I still feel for them having to occupy space with the crazy lady who appears periodically. And never so routinely as when I'm painting and the spectres of my dead parents are looking over my shoulder, saying, see, didn't we say you were worthless? To which I reply: and you're dead.
On Saturday I went to see the show of a work-friend. It was at ACT Theatre, which is the old Eagles Auditorium, where I spent a goodly portion of time attending rock shows in the early '70s. It houses several stories, linked by slanting floors and I recall shooting up or down those ramps many times. New Years Eve, 1971, I was peaking on acid as they sounded the New Year in and realized I was going to be sick, so I was flying down a ramp to the bathroom when I was accosted by my first gay crush, Rhina Stone, who grabbed me and stuck his tongue down my throat. I was pleased that I didn't throw up in his mouth.
The Name Game.
So, as I've said before, Wednesdays are my least favorite, as that is when the Farmer's Market happens about 50 feet from where I live. The streets are clogged with cars and the sidewalks with slow moving people (most of them pushing prams of yuppie spawn and eating something). As I was heading out of my house for Lulu's nightly drag, some old bat was getting out of her car and fell into step with me (or tried to: Lulu, seeing a HUMAN BEING, doubled back and made a beeline for her, and nearly tripped her and me). Are you Jackie and Serena's tenant, she asked. I said yes, and nearly added, yeah, me and Roman Polanski. She introduced herself as Cat and asked me my name. I told her. Sha, she said, considering the name. Ch - I said - Cha, like Cha Cha, not the Sha of Iran. She continued with small talk, which I mumbled answers to until I could shake her. When she said Cat, I should have said Dog? I have the easiest fucking name in the world, and you'd be amazed at how many variations people can pull out of their asses. See. This is how cranky I get on Wednesdays.
And speaking of The Tenant - when I lived in London, I saw it at a theatre that was a converted monkey house. There was even a pit, with big rocks, in front of the stage, where presumably the monkeys had cavorted. And it smelled a little - off. It was a double bill with The Tin Drum. Which made for one long ass evening of movies, but was a terrific pairing. I think it's Polanksi's funniest movie (one doesn't tend to think of Polanski = Comedy, and to be sure, the humor was very black). I see now that it's out of print, but available from a bunch of sellers on Amazon. I think I will pick up a copy, along with Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby. Some great films. And a great example of love the art, not the artist.
In thrall to the chill of Fall.
Seriously. But no where more than in my bedroom. After a long summer of sometimes not even being able to bear the weight of a sheet, I now have two quilts and three more pillows and in the morning, after being tucked securely in all night, the bed is barely unmade. I sleep so much better. And sleep is of paramount importance in my leetle world.I think all the critters are happy with cooler climes.Every day I open up the coop door when I get home from work and it looks like the girls had a pillow fight - with Beulah's feathers. Her butt is completely bare now, but she frowns upon any efforts on my part to get a good look. Do. You. MIND? I think she's having a more normal molt than Ester had - that is, I hope so. She has feathers coming in, so I'm hoping she's all feathered and fortified by the time the cold weather comes. She hasn't laid any thing for over a month now. In some respects, I wish she would just stop: she's always had some difficulty in passing eggs. There is no question that she would continue to dwell in the house of OH CHICKEN MY CHICKEN for the duration of her days: even if I weren't a vegetarian, I couldn't imagine killing and eating a chicken because they'd stopped laying. These are my girls.I've come close to finishing the painting I'm working on and last night it took a weird detour: I hope I didn't ruin it. Not surprisingly, after not having painted all summer, I'm rusty as hell, but am beginning to feel my groove return. In many ways, as a matter of fact.
And then it was Monday. Already. Again.
The weekend shot by like a lubed gerbil. But boy howdy, was I industrious. Chores galore, and I did most of them. Beginning with, first thing, even pre-coffee: cleaning up a pile of butterscotch pudding left on the kitchen floor by our favorite leaver-of-piss-and-poo, Dinsdale, followed by a bath for same. Most certainly a two-person job, but I took advantage of his stunned disbelief at what was happening to him to move quickly and wash the offending matter off. Sunday, the sun shone all day and if I listened hard enough, I could hear the siren song of 'yard work, wooooOOOOOoooooo!, but despite the fact that there are more bushels of fucking plums to be mucked up, I stayed indoors and was able to paint. And after dinner, returned to the studio and painted some more. I am definitely feeling an uptick in both energy and creativity. I took some lovely photographs - more grist for the painting mill - but couldn't bring them in today because I forgot my flash drive. More tomorrow.
Show me the way to the next whiskey bar or I tell you I must die.
Or not. This is Day 11 of no hooch and it's just ridiculous the false barriers we impose upon ourselves. I've agonized over this decision for the duration of the summer. At the end of the day, it ain't nothing but a thang. And no big thang, at that.
Last night, the critters and I retired to my studio while I played around with some possible new project and I put Thriller in the crappy DVD player in my studio (the only one that's working). For the uninitiated, Thriller was a television show in the 60s, hosted by Boris Karloff. It began as mostly a suspense anthology, but by the end of the first season began dealing with the supernatural. It had the best haunted houses: they used the Psycho house in several episodes. Anyway, I was sort of weaned on this stuff. And speaking of Psycho, my mother took me to see it in the theater: I was 6 (and am still vaguely uneasy in showers), but I grew to love the shit.
Recently, I was able to buy the entire Thriller catalog. Some enterprising guys taped them off some late night show called Scream. I guess they're in the public domain now, and are unavailable anywhere else. One of the pleasures of the series was the steady stream of wonderful character actors that I grew up with. The episode last night featured a young, and even then terrifically weird, William Shatner and the guy who played the professor on Gilligan's Island. And it was genuinely creepy, but it struck me that it was ready for a remake. I wonder how straight up haunted house stories would play these days, without the mandatory gallons of blood and gore. Maybe we'll come back to that. I hope so.